To me, this is a sign that it’s time to think about buying. While I’m not sure the price will get back up to $90, I do think IBM is making excellent strategic decisions that will pay off in the long term, and a little faith now will pay off down the road.
The most recent quarterly results point to why, even in a down quarter, IBM is still a good bet. The company reported weaker hardware sales, but stronger results in the software sector. With strong offerings in both areas, IBM should protect against any serious downside.
But I think the area for real growth is in its consulting and services sector. More and more companies are outsourcing IT decisions, and IBM has been working hard to strengthen itself in this area. This will pay dividends in contracts, but it can also lead to stronger sales of hardware and software. (Though IBM is very smart about not limiting its services to companies that use its other products.)
The most recent results showed a weakening in this area, which is probably a big part of what is scaring investors. But the company CEO, Samuel Palmisano, comes from the global-services division of the company, and is focused on improving the company’s offerings in this area. His international experience is also likely to prove helpful in coming years as developing economies create more demand for service solutions.
With good fundamentals and strong financial health -- not to mention a dividend -- I think getting in now makes this a low-risk way to own one of the true blue chips of the American economy.
Type of stock: A well established technology blue chip that has had a lackluster few months and is primed to be grabbed.
Price target: I’d think strongly about getting this now, while it’s still in the mid-$70s. After-all, the stock was as high a $90 in the last 52 weeks. If it gets down into the low $70s or below, I think you’d be hard-pressed not to buy some for your long term "value-oriented" portfolio.